SCROOGE shopping centre bosses refused to support a breast cancer screening service as it would mean taking up car parking space during the run-up to Christmas.

The life-saving mobile screening service, run by Southend Hospital, usually operates from the Knightswick Shopping Centre car park, off Foksville Road, Canvey, offering scores of women the chance to undergo a routine mammogram for their peace of mind.

Now residents on the island will have to travel to Morrisons supermarket, in Grays High Street, for their nearest mobile unit as the hospital is no longer permitted to park the trailer in the shopping centre car park.

A spokeswoman from the hospital said: “I can confirm we no longer provide the mobile breast screening service from the Knightswick Centre. However ,we are in negotiation with other sites on Canvey and hope to have a new location secured and operational by mid-January.”

Susan McClughen, 65, of Meadow View Walk, Canvey, was stunned when she was told she would have to drive 20 miles away to get tested.

She said: “It is absolutely outrageous.

I’ve always been tested at the Knightswick Centre, but this time when I got the letter through it said Morrisons in Grays. I don’t even know where that is.

“I thought they must be mistaken and meant the Morrisons on Canvey, but when I rang up the woman said that was now my nearest service as the Knightswick had refused to let them park there because the van took up too many parking bays.

“It’s absolutely disgusting.

I’ve lived here for 40 years and the shopping centre is happy to take my money, but not to provide this life-saving service.

“People are not going to be bothered to go that far, not to mention many vulnerable or older people maybe cannot drive to get there. This service is so important. We’re not talking about a chiropodist here, this is cancer.”

The hospital runs three mobile units which move around south Essex. Around 28,000 people in the south of the county who are aged between 50 and 70 are invited for routine mammograms at these mobile units every three years.

From next year this will be increased to encompass those aged from 47 to 73 to help increase survival rates.

A spokesman for Greater Manchester Pension Fund, which owns the Knightswick Shopping Centre, said: “This is an annual request which has always been fully supported.

“However, this is the first time they have asked to locate the clinic in the car park during the very busy Christmas period and – as the car park is already compromised for space at such peak times – we have been in close discussion with the screening service with regards to holding it at an alternative time and look forward to its presence here in
the new year instead.”